About Alex

Directed By: Jesse Zwick

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Maggie Grace, Jason Ritter, Jane Levy, Nate Parker, and Max Minghella

My fellow Millennials have been making quite a few movies about what it's like to make that full adjustment into adulthood.  To some extent, the wild party movie Neighbors serves up some satirical commentary on the transition from a carefree twentysomething to married life with children.  The recent romantic comedy What If humorously explores the challenges of finding that one special person with whom you can share a lifetime.  Now, we have About Alex in which we expose the raw underbelly of what happens to most friendships as time marches on.  Though the actors of my generation have not had a perfect batting average with these movies, their efforts have not gone unnoticed.

"Ask for me tomorrow and you shall find me a grave man".  That's the tweet Alex (Jason Ritter) sends out to the Twitterverse as he sits in his bathtub and slits his wrists.  Fortunately, the suicidal twentysomething survives his near-death experience.  Having learned of their friend's fragile state, his college buddies decide to come spend the weekend with him.  This doesn't abate any of their own ongoing issues or the fact that they've been neglecting their friend for quite some time now.

Writer Ben (Nate Parker) and his girlfriend Siri (Maggie Grave) battle it out over potentially moving to Los Angeles for a fellowship she has been awarded.  Doctoral candidate Josh (Max Greenfield) and M&A attorney Sarah (Aubrey Plaza) confront the loneliness of being single in their late 20s in drastically different ways.  Successful businessman Isaac (Max Minghella) brings his new 22 year-old girlfriend Kate (Jane Levy) to the "suicide party" and draws the ire of Sarah, who once had feelings for him.  When weed, wine, and sex enter the picture, they all become their 20 year-old selves again.  All the feelings and issues they faced in college are back at the forefront.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it.  About Alex doesn't have a particularly strong narrative.  It oscillates back and forth between a stale romantic melodrama and a comedy-drama to diagnose the challenges of becoming an adult.  It's just not a particularly interesting or original story.  That being said, what About Alex does have is a relatively strong ensemble cast featuring some great underrated talents.  Because this cast balances drama with levity quite well, they manage to hold viewers' attention despite the underwhelming premise.  The cast is the only saving grace of this movie.

There are a couple of standouts amongst the cast, but none more than Max Greenfield.  As doctoral candidate Josh, Greenfield gives us a man embittered by the hand life has dealt him.  In this role, he excels and delivers a lot of humor by doing some truth- telling in a blunt, caustic way.  The other major standout is Aubrey Plaza.  In her role as M&A attorney Sarah, Plaza starts out as a rather desperate, lonely woman and eventually becomes the passive-aggressive comedic force we know and love.

About Alex is far from perfect, and the premise is primarily to blame.  This rather melancholic comedy- drama gets a 0.09% rating.  Have some whiskey sours with this one.